Meet our School Leaders

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Jonathan Lynch - Heath Primary 

Jonathan has 5 years of headship experience and several years as a senior leader before that. He is currently the head teacher at Heath Primary School and was previously Headteacher at Westhouses Primary. 

He has helped to support other schools as a senior leader both in his role as a Primary Maths Specialist and as a Lead Literacy and Maths teacher for Derbyshire.  

Jonathan believes strongly in developing the team in school to improve opportunities for pupils and staff within the school.  Staff at Heath Primary School work hard to contribute to their own development and enthusiastically share good practice both with each other and with other local schools. Staff regularly go ‘above and beyond’ to support children and help to move the school forward. 

Heath Primary has a significant role within the community and has over the past few years developed a strong pastoral and nurture provision; enabling the school to support families as well as the children who attend the school. The ethos of the school builds on this as well as raising aspirations for children, though a broad and balanced curriculum that celebrates all the achievements of our pupils from kart racing out of school to dance festivals and our annual community art exhibition. 

Prior to the above he worked both in the centre and north of the peak district for other Derbyshire schools, working in a range of schools both in size and demographic. 

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Kate Mason - Richardson Endowed Primary 

Kate has over 20 years of leadership experience in education. She is currently Headteacher at Richardson Endowed Primary school after previously fulfilling the roles of Assistant and Deputy Head there.

Richardson Endowed Primary is a National Support School and visitors are welcomed not only from our county but also from across the whole country.

Kate has worked extensively with over 20 NQT’s in both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as a Mentor and is passionate about developing highly skilled and motivated teachers. She also works in partnership with the University of Derby and is regularly on the interview panel looking for students for the BEd and PGCE programmes.

Kate is a musician and has directed many school productions at a primary school level giving the children a professional experience of performing with sound, lighting and a live band.

Kate has a passion for education and believes that confident children make the best learners and therefore strives to develop the whole child through the Embark Core Beliefs of Family, Integrity, Teamwork and Success.

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Lynn Pilling - Howitt Primary School 

Lynn is the Headteacher at Howitt Primary Community School. She took up a post as class teacher at William Howitt Junior Community School after teaching in an inner city school in Derby.

She soon took on many different responsibilities through the school from English subject leader to health and safety manager. She became assistant Headteacher at the junior school and acted as Headteacher on the retirement of the school’s Headteacher.

After William Howitt Junior Community School amalgamated with Mary Howitt Infant Community School in September 2007, Lynn became the Deputy Headteacher of Howitt Primary Community School supporting the Headteacher in drawing the stakeholders together during a large change for the school community. This was a non-class based role which Lynn enjoyed, as she was able to develop her leadership skills further in a large primary setting as well as support both children and teachers to achieve the children’s potential.

Lynn was seconded to a junior school to support the Headteacher in developing a positive ethos and driving standards forward.

In 2015, Lynn took the school through a very challenging time as Lynn became Acting Headteacher, after the sudden death of the Headteacher. She was appointed as the Headteacher in January 2016. The role has brought new challenges and experiences, which Lynn has relished and overcome with the clear and united support of the staff. All teachers, as well as teaching and learning assistants are committed and work so hard to achieve the best possible experiences and learning for the children in a safe and nurturing environment.

Lynn has been at Howitt Primary in a variety of capacities for over twenty-two years and is keen to continue to move forward and provide the very best learning environment for every child. She is very dedicated and passionate about developing the whole child and providing the best experiences and opportunities to achieve every child’s full potential so that they are ready for life after school.

 

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Robert Hull - Kilburn Juniors 

Robert is headteacher of Kilburn Junior School where he has worked for 22 years, as class teacher, deputy headteacher, and for the last 18 months as headteacher.

Robert lead the school into its federation with Smalley Richardson in January 2017 and was a key member of the team who helped forge and shape the Embark Federation, its vision, core values and underlying principles.

Robert strongly believes in the need for schools to provide pupils with an enriching, stimulating experience, with a breadth of opportunity that will excite, motivate and prepare them for the future. He is committed to developing a rich and engaging curriculum whilst also providing opportunities beyond the classroom and school day that all pupils can access.

Robert has a wealth of experience as a teacher and senior leader and is passionate about teamwork, challenging and supporting staff to bring out the best in them and their pupils. He promotes collaboration within school and between the school and wider community but also considers the well-being of staff as being of paramount importance.

A keen sportsman, Robert gives sport and physical activity a high priority at school and has developed an ethos and culture that promotes this. He is also keen to promote the use of the outdoors, recognising it as an important tool in providing meaningful experiences for pupils beyond the classroom.

Overall Robert strives to provide a happy environment for the school community where stakeholders want to be. He is well-respected within the school community and endeavours to lead his team by example.

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Kate Beattie - Chaucer Infant and Nursery School 

Kate has been headteacher at Chaucer Infant and Nursery School for the last 13 years and she has had over 20 years’ experience in leadership roles. Prior to becoming headteacher at Chaucer, Kate was Deputy Head at Hasland Infant School in Chesterfield for 10 years where she helped to support other schools as a Lead Maths teacher for Derbyshire.  

Kate believes very strongly in the importance of developing well rounded, caring and responsible citizens. Our vision at Chaucer is encompassed in our motto Belong, Enjoy, Aim high, Respect. We aim for every child to feel valued and safe in our school, we want it to be a place where children can grow and flourish and we want the children to be eager to come in to school, happy and excited to learn.

Kate was SENDCo for the first 7 years of her headship at Chaucer and is committed to ensuring we are an inclusive school that has a desire to make a difference for all pupils in our community.

We are an Attachment Aware School, having taken part in a yearlong action research project, as part of Derbyshire’s Attachment Aware Programme. We were very proud in 2018 to receive the national Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award which recognises and celebrates best practice in attachment and trauma aware schools and settings.     

We are also proud to have received our sixth Eco-Schools Green Flag which is an internationally recognised award for excellence in environmental action and learning.

Kate has a really dedicated staff who work extremely hard for the children in their care. We are an important part of the community and all staff go above and beyond doing their best to support our children and their families.


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Melanie Lawson is Executive Headteacher at Aldercar Infants and Ladywood Primary. 

Melanie grew up and went to school in Derbyshire and trained to teach in Chester where she successfully completed her B.Ed. degree. 

After working initially in an amazing small school on the outskirts of Widnes she travelled abroad to continue her teaching career in Egypt. There were many highlights for her during this time but taking a Year 2 class on a local history trip to The Pyramids was certainly one of them. She then returned to the UK and worked in a number of schools in Burton upon Trent and Derby before she securing a Deputy Headship at Arboretum Primary School in Derby. Inclusive education became a strong feature of her practice as she was also SENCO and head of the ERS for Hearing Impaired Children at Arboretum. 

Completing her NPQH whilst Deputy Head was a crucial moment in her drive to continue with her leadership journey and soon after completing it she was appointed at Headteacher at Stanley St. Andrew’s in 2005. Stanley St Andrew’s was a happy community-based school where family and faith mattered. Whilst at this school she worked successfully with Behaviour Support and developed Derbyshire’s approach to Managed Moves enabling learners to have a fresh start and ensuring that the quote that it takes a village to raise a child was true. 

Melanie secured her second headship at Ladywood Primary School. Ladywood under her leadership has gone from strength to strength, team work is the key according to Melanie and she is proud of the part all stakeholders play in school improvement. At Ladywood everyone believes that all children should be able to Learn, Achieve and Thrive. 

She is excited to begin working with Aldercar in January 2020 and will ensure that the children in school are the stars. 

Melanie has been privileged to be involved in leading schools for 22 years and is still as committed as she was at the start of her leadership journey. She has supported a wide range of schools over the past 10 years and she currently supports schools as an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire Local Authority and has also delivered content to aspiring heads as part of their NPQH. She is also Chair of Governors at a local secondary school. 

Every day is a school day for Melanie’s and she strives hard to make sure she continues with lifelong learning, with this in mind she is currently completing her NPQEL. 

She is proud to be a new member of the Embark Family and is excited about the collaborative approach the Federation have to school improvement. Melanie believes that you should grow where you are planted and her feet and heart are firmly rooted in Derbyshire. 

 

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Michelle Siddons - Aldercar Infant and Nursery School

Michelle transitioned to the Head of School at Aldercar Infant and Nursery school, from being the Deputy Head teacher. She is a long standing staff member, having worked at Aldercar for over 13 years, and has developed positive, collaborative relationships with parents and members of the wider community. She firmly believes that by working together we can improve the life chances of all children, and achieve the core purpose of Embark, which is 'to develop well-rounded children with the skills to make a difference in an ever-changing world.'

During her time at the school, Michelle has taught across all the year groups and has an excellent understanding of early childhood development. She passionately believes in the importance of providing a safe and nurturing environment in which children can explore, and acquire a love of learning. For many years she has been the English lead, and has helped to ensure consistently high attainment in reading, writing and phonics across the school.

Michelle is also the schools ‘Special education needs and disability co-ordinator’ (SENDCo) and avidly champions the inclusion of all children.  She works closely with other professionals and local services to ensure the needs of all children are meet and the barriers to learning and inclusion are removed.

 As an SLE, she has worked collaboratively with KS1 teachers in a number of Derbyshire schools, to improve the outcomes of English and phonics and has carried out focused work to supports disadvantaged pupils. She has also supported schools to improve parental engagement in disadvantaged areas of Derbyshire.

Michelle is proud to be a part of Aldercar Infants, and is eager to continue to ensure that all the children are provided with the best possible education and care.

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Suzanne Gardner -

Ladywood

Primary School 

Suzanne took on the Head of School role at Ladywood Primary School in January 2021. She has been a member of the School Leadership Team there for 15 years and within that time has taken on many different roles, for example, English Lead, Maths Lead, Pupil Progress Lead, Curriculum Lead, EYFS Lead, KS1 Lead and LKS2 Lead. Suzanne has taught from Nursery to Year 6. She has spent most of her teaching career within EYFS and KS1.

Suzanne went on secondments to two schools within Derbyshire who were put into the category of Special Measures. She supported them in various roles including Assistant Headteacher, English Lead and Deputy Headteacher. This was a really great opportunity for Suzanne and she learnt a great deal from the experience.  Suzanne really enjoyed working with others and bringing out the best in them. She found it really rewarding to see people becoming more confident in their practice and the impact this had on the learners.

Suzanne has also had other roles within Derbyshire over the last 10 years. She has been an SLE for English, particularly Reading and Phonics. She worked collaboratively with other leaders in Derbyshire on the Reading Project for Derbyshire. Suzanne has also been a Key Stage One moderator for Derbyshire, where she would go into other schools and ensure their judgements were accurate. Suzanne has supported schools in Special Measures and Requires Improvement and has worked with the leadership teams in schools to bring about consistency. All of these roles have helped Suzanne to continuously improve her own practice.

Suzanne loves working at Ladywood Primary School and being part of ‘Team Ladywood’, which includes all stake holders in the school and local community. Suzanne feels she has a great team around her and enjoys watching people flourish and grow within their roles. She believes the commitment from all stakeholders is a real strength of the school.

Inclusion is important to Suzanne and ensuring all children have the best possible opportunities is key. At Ladywood there are so many opportunities for children to thrive, through classroom learning to Forest School and Nurture, ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum. Suzanne says it has been a privilege to work within the same community and watch the children she has taught grow into fantastic young adults.

Suzanne is proud to be a part of Embark and is enjoying working collaboratively with the other Embark Schools and sharing great practice.

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Denise Wells - Fieldhouse Infant and Nursery School 

Over the last 30 plus years as a Headteacher Denise has seen an enormous amount of change- when she first took on the role schools were just having their budgets delegated and the National Curriculum was beginning to take shape! The challenges the role of Headteacher in our ever changing world is what motivates and enthuses her to continue in the role as she believes, wholeheartedly, in educating children to be confident in themselves for whatever the future holds.

Field House Family are a community who work together to inspire their pupils to reach their full potential through nurture and learning, building a solid foundation for the future. The school logo is Aspire, Believe, Achieve. Field House is an inclusive and happy school that is ambitious for all pupils. Staff are strong believers in developing children who are resilient and open to the challenges life offers. Following research work carried out with University Of the First Age in July 2018 on their Parent Programme- Helping My Child To Learn the positive words from those on the course led the school to  develop the THRIVE Approach.

 “If education was an insect, it would be a caterpillar, because it continues to grow and evolve into a butterfly- learning and changing. Each insect being unique”.

Denise and her staff truly believe that a whole education unlocks the opportunity for EVERY child to succeed, particularly those who face additional challenges. All our young people can make a difference in their lives and those of others given the right leadership, self-belief and approaches to learning.

 

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Parmjit Atwal - Horsley Woodhouse Primary 

Parmjit is new to the headteacher role and has previously held the roles of Assistant Headteacher, a class teacher in years 5 and 6, maths leader and KS2 / KS3 transition leader.  She is a Senior Leader of Education, specialising in Maths, and has experience of improving outcomes for children in her previous school and in schools across Derby city. Her role included leading on developing the use of effective intervention strategies, staff training on mathematical reasoning and parental engagement in children’s learning.  She and is currently undertaking the NPQH programme. 

Parmjit fully embraces the ethos of Embark and is firmly committed to the values of Family, Integrity, Teamwork and Success and has focused on embedding these in teaching and learning at Horsley Woodhouse Primary School. The ethos of the school celebrates inclusion and the development of children as valued, empowered learners who are curious and love to learn. All children are encouraged to: act on their curiosity; learn from their mistakes; take pride in their achievements; care about others and dream big for themselves – Act, Learn, Be proud, Care and Dream. The school runs a popular and successful Forest School programme which every child experiences – this ensures that children have broad and varied opportunities to learn.

It is important to Parmjit to establish strong relationships within her school community and to work in collaboration with others. Parmjit is keen to establish links to the wider school community and has begun to see this develop with collaborative projects with families and the local businesses, especially in the redevelopment of the school’s provision for Early Years. 

Parmjit firmly believes that the school team are the biggest strength of the school and is committed to developing her team to ensure that personal and professional development are a priority. The team at Horsley Woodhouse are passionate and committed, and care deeply about unlocking the potential in every child, every day. Parmjit feels privileged and proud to lead them to the next chapter!

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Dave Cates - Riddings Junior School 

Dave has had a varied career in education which has included teaching every age group from Nursery to 3rd Year Undergraduate students at University.  

Trained as a PE teacher he worked in a number of challenging secondary schools before moving to Derbyshire as a SENCO and Assistant Head before becoming a Deputy in a large comprehensive in Sheffield.  

Following some time working in Derbyshire's SEN support service Dave spent 4 years at Ladywood Primary learning a huge amount about the Primary sector before being appointed to the Headship of Riddings Junior School in 2014. After 3 years of hard work the staff and children of Riddings were recognised as belonging to a Good school and its development has continued apace.  

The school is hugely proud of its children and how they develop.  It makes great use of its wonderful grounds (including having a unique Forest playground) as well as its engaging and thoughtful curriculum.  Over the years the links with the local community have grown, classes are named after local soldiers of the First World War and the Annual Remembrance Service is one of a number of events that are very special. The school also takes PRIDE (its watchword) in its highly regarded support of children who have additional needs.

 

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Elise Piper - Longford Church of England School 

Elise Piper is new to the role of headteacher at Longford, commencing in September 2021. However, this is her fifth year at Longford C of E Primary School, where her first leadership role was that of Maths lead. She then took on the role of Strategic Curriculum Lead, before transitioning to an Assistant Headteacher role.

During her time at Longford, Elise has taught across five year groups (Years 2-6) and currently still maintains a teaching commitment in the Year 5 & 6 class, teaching Maths and English. Her knowledge of the school, paired with the range of experiences she has had during my time at Longford, means that she has a strong understanding of the school’s vision and how she can move the school forward, to ensure that all children are provided with the best possible education and opportunities.

Elise says that it is pleasure to be part of the Longford community – from the children, staff, parents and governors, to the wider community, which includes their links with the local church (being a C of E school) and she is extremely proud to work there, where a positive child-centred approach is adopted, with their vision centring around their core school values, which shine through life at Longford.

So as to continue her own educational & professional development, Elise is currently undertaking the NPQH.

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Amarjeet Challand - Waingroves Primary School 

Amarjeet immigrated to this country from East Africa when she was 6 and experienced a negative education system where assumptions of her ability were made on race and background rather than ability. It was not until she got to university where her love for learning began. She trained to be a teacher with the believe of serving her community on a basis of entitlement for all.

After qualifying Amarjeet decided that they only way she could make a difference was to teach in deprived monocultural schools. She started her career at a school in Chaddesden where she was supported by an outstanding headteacher who taught her so much that within 2 years led on Science and Technology which resulted in being head hunted by another school in the city to a senior post. This school was a large city Catholic primary school which taught her the importance of faith where parents choose to send their children to a faith school. Here she learnt the importance of family and the impact it makes on children’s learning from varied financial, ethnic, and social backgrounds.

Amarjeet then became a Deputy headteacher at a large monocultural inner city school which had one of the highest levels of deprivation in the city. Here her interest and new passion developed in Special Educational Needs which led to her achieving a post graduate diploma in SEND (Special Education Needs and Disability) to help her support the teachers, SEND children and their families. During her time there Amarjeet was seconded to another inner-city school nearby to support their journey out of Special Measures. This led to Amarjeet securing her first headship in 2002 in an inner-city school in Nottingham City, again with a high level of deprivation and within 2 years the school moved from satisfactory to good and it was the first time in the school’s history that it achieved above floor standards in SATs .

 In 2005 Amarjeet became the headteacher of Waingroves Primary School which was in the category of serious weaknesses and now it has achieved its fourth Good OFSTED rating in 2019. During her time at Waingroves she achieved a post graduate qualification in the teaching of Dyslexic children as her son displayed dyslexic tendencies when starting school. Amarjeet has also been an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire Local Authority and has led the school to joining the Embark Federation who share the most important values in education of Family, Integrity, Teamwork and Success to create ‘stand out’ schools at the heart of their communities. This is very much at the heart of what Amarjeet and her team want to achieve for their community

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Tiffany Smith - Chaucer Junior School 

Tiffany is the newly-appointed headteacher at Chaucer Junior School in Ilkeston.

She attended university in Birmingham, completing a degree in Primary Education with QTS and experiencing a range of inner-city and suburban schools during this time. In 2012, Tiffany was appointed as a class teacher at Chaucer, joining the senior leadership team in September 2014. In the subsequent years, her key responsibilities have been pupil premium, assessment, the monitoring of teaching and learning and the wider curriculum. Her teaching experience is predominantly within upper key stage 2, several years of which were in Year 6.

Shortly after levels were abolished in 2014, Tiffany was recruited as an Assessment Lead Teacher by Derbyshire County Council to advise local school leaders in introducing new systems to track pupils’ progress and to support teachers to assess children more confidently against the new framework. After a positive start, she was then approached to become a Specialist Leader of Education; having completed her training and gaining accreditation, Tiffany was lucky enough to work at several schools across the county, collaborating with senior leaders to aid school improvement, coaching struggling staff on a one-to-one basis and facilitating training through INSET and staff meetings.

From October 2020, Tiffany worked as the Assistant Headteacher at Chaucer Junior School and she was thrilled with her appointment as Head, taking up her new role from January 2022. Her ethos is that every child should feel included, valued and challenged to fulfil their potential. Chaucer’s school motto of ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve,’ embodies her ambition to help the school continue its journey to providing an outstanding education which is specifically tailored to ensure inclusion for all. She is passionate about raising aspirations, building genuine relationships across the school and in the community and the quality of daily classroom practice.

To help support Tiffany in her new role, she will shortly be undertaking her NPQH and she is excited about the new challenges that she faces. She is proud to lead such an exceptional school and to be part of a trust which is known to be so authentic and well-respected. Tiffany feels that children should be at the heart of all that she does and promises that she will do everything in her power to help them unlock their potential, develop their personal skills and grow into capable young individuals, whilst keeping them safe and guarding their wellbeing.

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Rachel Purvis - William Rhodes Primary & Nursery School 

Rachel has been the head teacher at William Rhodes Primary & Nursery School in Chesterfield since 2016. She is really enjoying the challenge of improving the school and developing an amazing team around her.

Rachel has been working in education since 1996. Her first teaching post was in a large primary school in Sheffield. She left to work part-time as a teacher whilst looking after her young son and taught in the small village school at Great Hucklow in the Peak District. She completed her NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship) in 2008 and became  the head teacher at Great Hucklow in 2010.

In 2014, Rachel became an associate adviser for the local authority and enjoyed supporting schools on their school improvement journey. Keen to progress to a bigger school, she set her sights on William Rhodes and has been happily steering that ship ever since.

Rachel has lots of passions outside of school including love of family, love of travel and love of walking the beautiful hills and dales of the Peak District. She enjoys working in ceramics and doing crochet and is an enthusiastic yet novice pianist and gardener.

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Kim Millar – St George’s CE Primary School 

Kim has been headteacher at St George’s since 2019. Prior to that she was headteacher at a small village primary school for 4 years. She was class teacher and then deputy headteacher at a very large primary school for 17 years.  

Kim believes that all children deserve an exciting, challenging and successful experience at primary school and her school motto of ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’ sums up what she wants for the children in her school. She firmly believes in inclusivity, where every child has the chance to reach their full potential. Kim is also keen to promote creativity within the curriculum, enabling the children to have as many enrichment opportunities as possible.  

Kim is also SENDCO, a role she finds extremely rewarding as it enables her to shape the experiences of many children at her school.  

Kim is passionate about her role as headteacher and feels that positive relationships with children, staff, parents, governors and the wider community are key to creating a warm, friendly and caring environment. She is very excited to be part of Embark and is looking forward to the collaboration opportunities with other schools within the federation. She is inspired by the vision and values of Embark and feels they truly reflect those at St George’s. 

The Richardson Express Launch

08 Jun 2022

Richardson Endowed Primary had a day to remember last week when they held the grand opening of the Richardson Express. It was launched as Sir David Carter cut the ribbon and there was a brilliant turn...

Governance Networking

08 Jun 2022

  Embark Federation held their first governance networking event which was a great success. It was a chance for our local governors to network with each other and have some excellent input fro...

Library launch at Horsley Woodhouse Primary

29 Apr 2022

Our Trust Leader Matthew Crawford has paid a special visit to Horsley Woodhouse Primary School today to open their brand-new Library space. The launch of the new library has a primary focus of &lsquo...

Richardson Endowed Primary Singing Spectacular!

29 Apr 2022

Richardson Endowed Singing Spectacular!!   On Wednesday evening Richardson Endowed Primary School put on an incredible concert for our families, staff and children. The Richardson Choir had put...

Think Ocean

29 Apr 2022

Embark Federation have hosted a very important meeting this evening at our offices. Hugo Valdes-Vera was here to present on a topic that we very much support. Think Ocean is a company who are strivin...

Optimus Summit and the Bett Show

26 Apr 2022

Our Trust Leader Matthew Crawford was representing Embark Federation as a guest Keynote Speaker at the Optimus Conference on Growing and Developing a Trust. Mr Crawford was sharing context from our tr...

Embark Awards 2021

26 Apr 2022

Embark Awards 2021 Embark Federation celebrated 108 of our children’s achievements during lockdown with our first ever Embark Awards evening. This brought together children and their families f...

Celebration of Culture 2022

26 Apr 2022

Thursday 24th March Embark and 30 of our children from Richardson Endowed Primary School took a trip to Leicester Tigers Rugby Club to perform at the East Midlands Chambers Celebration of Culture even...

Reading with Rosie!

22 Apr 2021

Embark’s Fundraising and Events Manager Rosie Mclaughlin started recording a daily story to keep pupils entertained during the second lockdown. Rosie wanted to do something that would help her t...

Christmas isn't cancelled at Embark!

22 Apr 2021

Embark arranged a special treat for all our schools called ‘Christmas isn't cancelled for Embark schools!’ As part of that we arranged licences for all our children to...